Omicron puts pressure on SA borders as NSW and Victoria vow to stay open

SA Premier Steven Marshall is keeping the state's borders open for now.

South Australia is holding tight over its open borders with New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT but has left the door open for a sudden change before Christmas.

The latest Covid variant has spooked some premiers, with Western Australia, Queensland and Northern territory all imposing added restrictions on visitors from SA over fears the Omicron strain could slip into the state.

SA Premier Steven Marshall is keen to keep the border open to its two biggest visitor states only two weeks after bringing down the barricades despite pressure from chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier who would prefer to tread a more cautious path and close the border while they gather more information.

“We’re meeting on a very regular basis and we don’t take any option off the table,” Marshall said.

There has been a tightening of restrictions in SA with people arriving from NSW, Victoria and the ACT now testing on arrival and day six in addition to having a negative test result within 72 hours before arrival.

Victoria and NSW have vowed to stick to their respective paths to freedom with no plans to bring back restrictions.

“Victorians can look forward to these next few weeks in the lead up to Christmas with a real sense of confidence,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

“Our borders remain open.”

Andrews said pushing for a “Omicron zero” approach didn’t make sense as it appeared to be a milder strain of the virus.

In a sign of bi-partisan collaboration, Andrews said he had been working with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to keep border restrictions the same in both states

“I’m going to do everything I can to keep those rules the same,” Andrews said.

“I think there’s some merit in that.”

The Sydney Business Events Coalition welcomed the NSW Government’s commitment to keeping its borders open.

Geoff Donaghy, Coalition spokesperson and CEO of ICC Sydney, said that while local event attendance remained strong this week, the reopening of interstate borders were needed to see the return of national events.

“While we remain cautious and committed to operating safe events, an over-reaction to Omicron could continue to devastate the events industry,” he said.

“After being decimated by the pandemic, events have only just recommenced. For business events, we are in the final weeks of business before the Christmas break and for entertainment events, we’re building up to a busy summer.

“If all states, like New South Wales, continue to support a safe reopening of venues alongside the removal of operating restrictions, we believe our road to recovery will be unaffected and we hope to see real economic growth in the New Year.

“While local attendance has returned at speed, we need national business to pick up in 2022 and, ultimately international event attendance, for any sort of meaningful recovery.”